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Collection Storage Facilities

MVZ specimens are housed primarily on the 3rd floor of the Valley Life Sciences Building, with additional storage on the 1st floor. Skins, skeletons, and other dried material are stored in insect-proof and light-proof cases. Cases for bird and mammal type specimens are locked and accessible only with authorization from an MVZ Curator. Large mammal material is housed in one of two rooms with humidity and temperature control (the "bone room" and "fur room"). Fluid-preserved specimens are housed in glass jars or steel tanks in one of 8 rooms that are designed specifically for flammable storage. Tissues are stored either in ultralow freezers or in a walk-in cold room.

Each of the collections (herps, birds, and mammals) is arranged slightly differently. Amphibians and reptiles are arranged phylogenetically in one of 6 rooms by order, and then alphabetically by family, genus, and species. Within a taxon, specimens are organized in containers by location (typically country, state, county). In general, subspecies are not recognized for herps. Stomach contents are stored at the end of each family. Herp skeletons and dried skins are kept in cases in a room that also houses the Hildebrand collection as well as bird and mammal research material. Cleared-and-stained herp specimens, and type specimens, are arranged separately from the main collection.

Bird skins, skeletons, fluid-preserved specimens, and eggs and nests are each stored separately. Bird eggs and nests are in cases at the start of the collection, followed by cases of skeletons and then skins. Fluids, including anatomical specimens such as syringes or stomach contents, are in a separate room. Skins are organized phylogenetically to the level of subspecies, and then geographically to specific locality within the lowest taxonomic unit. Series of skins from the same locality are ordered by date (month and day) and MVZ catalog number. The other collections are arranged phylogenetically by order and family, and then alphabetically by genus, species, and geography.

Mammal skins and skeletal material are integrated in cases throughout the mammal collection. Fluid-preserved mammals are in a separate room. Mammals are arranged phylogenetically by order, and then alphabetically by family, genus, species, and subspecies. Within the lowest taxonomic unit, specimens are ordered alphabetically by higher geography and specific locality, and then by MVZ catalog number. Skins and skins with skulls are housed together at the start of each family, followed by skeletal material (e.g., skull only, complete skeleton, bacula) at the end of the family.

Frozen tissue samples for herps, birds, and mammals are stored in an ultralow (-80ºC) freezer facility on the 4th floor, adjacent to the Evolutionary Genetics Lab room for DNA extraction and PCR setup. Each freezer is outfitted with custom-made racks and polycarbonate boxes. Tissues are catalogued with the same numerical system as the main collections. Within each of the three groups, samples are arranged phylogenetically by order, then alphabetically by family, genus, and species, and numerically by MVZ catalog number. Non-frozen tissues (e.g., ethanol- or buffer-preserved) are stored in racks and boxes in a walk-in (-4ºC) cold room.

Additional storage facilities are available for uncatalogued research material, catalogued material that has not yet been integrated into the collections, and specimens on loan from other institutions. In addition, a walk-in freezer and chest freezer are available for temporary storage of unprepared specimens received primarily as donations or salvage.


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